CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Now that they’re in power, what can Democrats do about Iraq? Can they push for a timetable to leave? Can they cut off funding for the war? Who will be their leading voice in the fight? Will it be Nancy Pelosi’s rival Steny Hoyer or her friend Jack Murtha? We begin with the man who wants to be majority leader, Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha. Thank you Mr. Murtha for coming here and nowhere else.
So let’s get to questions that everybody wants answered. First of all, it’s a secret ballot tomorrow, right?
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Right.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to win?
MURTHA: We’re going to win, we’ve got the votes.
MATTHEWS: You’ve got them?
MURTHA: We’ve got the votes.
MATTHEWS: Eyeball to eyeball, you’ve got them?
MURTHA: Eyeball to eyeball.
From the AP:
Democrats picked Rep. Steny Hoyer to be House majority leader on Thursday, spurning Rep. Nancy Pelosi's handpicked choice moments after unanimously backing her election as speaker when Congress convenes in January.
A Marylander and 25-year veteran of Congress, Hoyer defeated Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania in a vote of 149-86.
One of two things happened here:
1. Many that told Murtha they could count on his support, lied right through their teeth.
2. Murtha can't count.
But the big story in all of this? Nancy Pelosi's first defeat coming from her own party. Apparently she doesn't wield as much power as many thought. As a result of this event, the next session of Congress should provide a lot of plot twists and drama, this being the first.
"I didn't have enough votes and so I'll go back to my small subcommittee I have on Appropriations," Murtha said after the vote.
(If you ask me, I would relegate him to tending the bar at a local American Legion post. But, I would watch his cash register, closely.)
So, on goes the show. As expected after a contentious process, the Dems are making a concerted effort to show they are unified and ready to take their imagined mandate and confront the Administration.
“Let the healing begin,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said after Hoyer had eased past her preferred candidate, Rep. John Murtha, a prominent opponent of the war in Iraq. The secret-ballot vote for Hoyer was 149-86. She was chosen by acclamation.
Added Hoyer, a 25-year veteran of Congress: “The Republicans need to know, the president needs to know and the country needs to know our caucus is unified today.”
That's all well and good. But if we read on, we see that not everyone feels like it's a Kumbaya moment.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who backed Murtha, said some members of the rank-and-file had told both rival camps to count them as supporters. “We know who they are,” he said, although he later added that many of them were lawmakers whose victories on Nov. 7 gave Democrats their majority.
“If they’re freshmen, they get a pass on this one,” he said.
We know who they are? If they are rookies, they get a pass?
This certainly sounds like sour grapes to me. It also sounds like there's going to be a come-uppance to those that played both sides, especially if they weren't freshmen.
That doesn't sound very unified to me. In fact, it sounds like the Dems stand a good chance of fracturing themselves a bit, now that they have this new found control. But they did make the better choice in this case. Hoyer has a far better reputation than Murtha, not just on ideology, but in ethical reputation.
In fact, he probably would be better suited to be Speaker, than Nancy Pelosi. And he will, if she screws this up.
Meanwhile, later today, the GOP must decide who gets the nod for House Minority Leader. If the Republicans are smart, they will pick Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. I do not always agree with him on social issues. But what I hear from him on fiscal issues, I do like.
But besides all that, if they truly want to re-tool and re-invent, they will give him a serious look and choose him to redesign the image of the party. They have already made a mistake by picking Lott as the new Whip, it would be a mistake to not move in a new direction.